The leaders of the Israelite people were unjust to the weak and poor. They preyed upon them for what they could take. To them, they have forsaken in their time of need and now who will they go to in there’s. God’s extreme judgment come when He withdraws His protection. As the Lord declared, “Without Me you have no hope before your enemies.” “As the people had hitherto lived without God in worship and obedience; so they should now be without his help, and should perish in their transgressions.” (Clarke)
It wasn’t enough for the Assyrians to conquer a nation they had to also humiliate and subjugate the conquered people. God is allowing this as they would not bow down to Him so now they can bow down to their enemies.
Then the chorus. “His anger does not turn away And His hand is still stretched out.” Still, the people did not repent so God’s work of judgment was not finished.
Assyria Is God’s Instrument
We have read earlier in the book of Isaiah that the Prophet told that God would use Assyria as an instrument of judgment against Syria, Israel, and Judah. (Isaiah 7:1-10:4) The Assyrians were more wicked than the Syrians, Israel, and Judah but God would use them to bring His punishment but this would not excuse Assyria for their wickedness. As the Lord God said “Woe to Assyria.
Rod and staff were used by the shepherds to correct and guide their sheep. God is saying that Assyria is like a stick in His hand to be used to correct and guide Syria, Israel, and Judah. The Assyrians were being used by God to accomplish His will against the Syrians, Israelites, and Judeans. God had given them permission to take the spoil of their lands and to tread them down.
The Assyrians were the instruments in God’s hand but they themselves were not intent on doing the will of the Lord. They had no love for the Lord and did not serve Him, their motive was for the spoil and people they could conquer for their own selves. Their heart was to cut off and destroy a few nations and not working to glorify God.
God can use the wicked to accomplish His will even if their hearts are not attuned to Him but wrapped in their own wickedness. We see examples of God’s ability to use wicked people in the competition of His purposes. The brothers of Joseph sinned but God uses them for His purposes. Saul sinned but God was able to use him also for His purpose. Judas sinned against Jesus but God used Him to complete His will for man’s salvation.
We see the evil that people do but God can use those evil doers to accomplish His plans. We often see how God can bring good from the evil that has been done to us? We can’t know how God will accomplish this but we can trust Him to do so. All we can do is seek Him and submit to His will. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
In the Arrogance of the Assyrians, they felt that their princes were equal to the kings of other nations. They had conquered the Samarians who were given to idol worship and now they view Jerusalem, which still had some worship to the Lord God. In the Assyrian pride they thought the God of the Judeans was nothing more than one of the idols that the conquered nations had served. God is now saying through His prophet that the Assyrians were in for a rude awakening.
The cities mentioned in verses 9-10 were conquered by Assyria in 740 and 721 BC. None of their false god’s had proved a help to them. The Assyrian king had haughty looks and we see how much pride can be revealed by a haughty look. Those who have a haughty look and a proud heart and the wicked who plow their wicked seed are sinful. (Proverbs 21:4) The Lord will not endure such a person who has a proud heart. (Psalm 101:5) The Lord will save those who are humble but will bring down the prideful heart. (Psalm 18:27)
God is displaying the heart of the Assyrians for they glory in their strength and wisdom. Their power is greatly exaggerated in comparison to the Lord God. The comparison of two Kings is this, Julius Caesar had this heart of pride when he said of his military conquests, “I came, I saw, I conquered.” Charles V said, “I came, I saw, but Christ conquered.”
The Lord is using a picture that the instruments should never take credit for what the workman had done. Strength and skill are not found in the instrument but in the one who uses it. Therefore the arrogance of the Assyrians is foolishness to God. The point that we should be careful of here is that an unknowing instrument of God can become proud so too a knowing instrument of God can become proud. Jesus explained this way the pride that His servants can develop. “So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.” (Luke 17:10) As privileged as we are to be instruments in the hand of God, we are not deserving of special glory.
At the time Assyria was strong and proud but God would lean away from their pride. God would send the judgment of fire upon them and the forest and fruit-filled lands would suffer. In the end, Assyrian would be a shadow of its former self.
The Lord God told Judah to not trust the Assyrians to be their deliverer when the threat from Syria and Israel comes. The Lord promised that He would deliver them from Syria and Israel. But Ahaz the King did not listen to the Lord and placed his trust in the Assyrians. The Lord as He promised uses the Assyrians to defeat the Syrians and Israel and He would also use the Assyrians to judge Judah. Now the Lord wants to prepare Judah for the attack from Assyria and He wants Judah to trust Him.
This is a remarkable sign of God’s grace and longsuffering. Who could criticize the Lord if He said: “Fine if you do not want to trust me and place your trust with the Assyrians?” In spite of the judgment that the Judeans deserved God want to comfort them and give them hope. The Lord then gives the people a promise. They will go through this trial because they would not trust Him but He would change them so that they would trust Him again.
The suffering of God’s people will surely make them feel they will be destroyed. God gives them assurance that there will be a remnant preserved. When the Lord allows destruction, be it judgment or correction, it is always righteous. The judgment of God always overflows with righteousness. God will break Judah’s trust in foreign people and restore their trust in Him. Therefore they will never depend on those who defeated them.
The Lord is telling them to not be afraid of the judgment and correction. It will hurt but the Lord has a plan so they should not be afraid. It is easy to trust the Lord when all is at peace. It is harder to trust the Lord in times of judgment and correction but we must as this is the only way to return the peace.
Why should the people not be afraid? Because it is not the Assyrians that are in charge but God who is in charge. It will be only for a little while and the anger of the Lord will cease. We can take comfort that the Lord will never leave His people at the mercy of their enemies.
The Lord is using the example of the Midian’s that they should trust Him. The example is that of Gideon when the Lord gave him the victory over the Midianites. It was a complete victory that was miraculous as Gideon only had three hundred men. (Judges 2:25) God’s judgment would be just as complete against the Assyrians, which was the case. (2 Kings 19:35) God simply sent the angel of the Lord and killed 185,000 of the Assyrians in one night. The Lord even judged the King of Assyria as when he returned home from attacking Judah he was murdered by his own sons. (2 Kings 19:36-37)
Assyria would oppress Judah, but not forever. The yoke of oppression would be destroyed by the anointing of the oil. This would be done by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. No longer would Judah be in bondage to the Assyrians.
Assyria would indeed trouble and oppress Judah, but not forever. Instead, the yoke will be destroyed because of the anointing oil. Because of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit among Judah (represented by the anointing oil), the yoke of bondage would be destroyed.
The people of Judah may have thought that God would not allow the invasion of the Assyrians but now we see a list of the cities that would be attacked. But the Lord would restore these cities. The cities mentioned flow from the north to the south showing the course of the invasions. The city of Nob is on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Here is where the invasion was stopped when the Lord slew 185,000 of the Assyrian soldiers.
Those of high stature will be made low and even the mighty forests will be taken down leaving only stumps. The forest of Lebanon was known for their mighty cedar trees. The Lord will humble all of Judah and even the forest. As is said, the bigger they are the harder they will fall.